Zim coalition will not make much difference: Mbuende

16 Jul 2013 08:40
By Sawi Lutibezi
WINDHOEK, 16 JUL (NAMPA) ? The formation of a coalition will not have much of an impact in the upcoming elections in Zimbabwe, former Namibian Ambassador to the United Nations? (UN) Dr Kaire Mbuende has said.
The parties forming a coalition in a bid to depose long-serving Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe?s ZANU-PF party are comprised of Zimbabwean Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change (MDC); Finance Minister Simba Makoni?s Mavambo/Kusile/Dawn (MKD); and the Zanu-Ndonga party led by Reketai Semwayo.
Mbuende said these parties have not yet made an impact on the overall political scene of Zimbabwe.
General elections will be held in Zimbabwe on 31 July 2013, and will be the first elections held under a new constitution, which was approved in a referendum in March 2013.
In June 2013, Mugabe came under fire from his fellow Southern African Development Community (SADC) leaders for wanting to delay the elections by at least 30 days in order to allow more time for the reform of the security forces and State media.
Zimbabwe's last elections in 2008 were plagued by violence, and ultimately forced Mugabe into a power-sharing government with the opposition.
According to Mbuende, Tsvangirai's MDC has been strong in Matabeleland, whilst there has been a balance of power in Masvingo for both the ruling party and the opposition.
?I do not think this pattern is going to change much. From the opposition coalition that has been formed, Zanu-Ndonga, for instance, is a party that has been winning elections in one constituency only since independence,? he explained.
As for Makoni?s party, Mbuende said they took part in last year?s elections, and did not make much of an impact either.
?On the other hand, the MDC has been strong, and therefore it would be a highly-contested election, but I do not think the formation of the coalition will be decisive,? he added.
Also approached to shed insight on the upcoming elections was Dr Hoze Riruako, a senior lecturer of politics and administrative studies at the University of Namibia (Unam), who said every year leading to elections in Zimbabwe has seen polls? turmoil between the contesting political parties.
Riruako said the playing field is not really level, because opposition political parties are intimidated to such an extent that any observer would wonder if any election held there would be free and fair.
?In past elections, you would find situations where prominent opposition leaders would be imprisoned now and then, even when elections are close,? he noted.
Riruako said he wonders how much time opposition parties have to mobilise their members and consolidate their bases before the elections.
?Because of the clear intimidation from the ruling party, people have become afraid to come to the ballot posts because of the youth militia, and the clear intimidation from the ruling party,? he continued.
He said the situation has changed a bit now, with interventions from the African Union (AU) and SADC.
Pressure that has been exerted by these organisations, together with that country?s economic situation, has softened Mugabe?s stance on power in a way.
?Everybody could see the hardship in that country, which is one thing that caused Mugabe to even agree to a power-sharing government,? he added.
Riruako further expanded his argument that Tsvangirai, being prime minister and being within the government machinery, has somewhat mellowed that tension.
The problem now, however, is the independence of the electoral commission.
?How independent is it? How much of it is influenced by ZANU-PF? The reality in Zimbabwe is that it seems as if almost everything is controlled from above,? he stated.
That gives little room for opposition parties to manoeuvre, and gives the ruling party space to manoeuvre things in its interest.
Supportive of the coalition idea, Riruako said it is about time that opposition parties everywhere forgot about their greediness of everybody wanting to become president.
?People who are voting are less than 60 per cent countrywide, even in Namibia, and that is not a good sign. Both opposition and ruling parties should be worried why people are not voting,? he stressed.
According to Riruako, the coalition has a chance to unseat ZANU-PF.
?However, this is a good sign from the opposition parties, and it is high time they rise beyond their petty differences,? he proffered.
Analysing Mugabe?s threat to pull out of SADC, Riruako said this just a gimmick on the part of Zimbabwe?s veteran leader.
?Mugabe?s threat to pull out of SADC is just a gimmick. SADC is such a formidable institution that, in my opinion, Zimbabwe stands to gain more than being outside of it,? he pointed out.
Zimbabwe would then become more vulnerable if outside, and Mugabe?s government would be completely isolated from the rest of the world.
The majority of the Western countries, which are perceived as ?civilised nations?, basically have nothing to do with Mugabe, he added.
While launching his first campaign on 05 July this year in front of close to 20 000 members of his party, Mugabe, who has been ruling that country for 33 years, threatened to pull out of SADC, and accused the group of bias after it recently asked him to postpone the elections.
?We are in SADC voluntarily. If SADC decides to do stupid things, we can move out and withdraw from SADC,? Mugabe was quoted as saying in the City Press newspaper.